Here are a few reasons why play-based therapy is important for speech and language development.
As a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I look forward to playing with my clients during their individualized one-on-one sessions. I get to connect with my inner child, laugh out loud and play with my clients on their terms.
Child-led therapy is naturally motivating for children, especially if he or she may have a language delay. As soon as my clients enter the play room, they head straight for their preferred toys and my job is to follow their lead.
Play-based therapy is a natural attention grabber. After many years a speech language pathologist, I have learned that one of the foundations of learning is attention. It is easier for a child to learn a new skill when they are fully attending to the activity and the therapist. The child and the therapist engage in a reciprocal activity where eye contact, toys and language are exchanged. The goal of child-led therapy is to follow the child's lead, and play in a manner that is age-appropriate and exciting for the child. If the child wants to drive around in the play car, then my job is to follow that car wherever it goes.
Play therapy requires flexibility and freedom to roam around the therapy room. Our play sessions typically occur on the floor or while jumping on the mini-trampoline or climbing up and down the slide. The possibilities of play are endless when we are in a relaxed and comfortable environment where safety is a priority.
How do we get any work done if all we do is follow the child's lead and allow them to run the therapy session? Well, I start by selecting very specific activities, toys, that will create opportunities for language moments. There are some toys that are closed or too high for the child to reach and so they point to request or ask for help with accessing a toy. I also ensure that the toys we pick have specific story or theme that we are working on that day. We may start with transportation themed toys and end up getting in the car and driving to the farm to practice animal sounds. The goal is to create simple story and narrative that the child can connect with. This way they are more inclined to recall the topic that we covered that day during play.
Play based therapy is not limited to the speech therapy room. We encourage all our parents to continue the fun outside of our therapy session to ensure carryover and generalization of newly learned communication and language skills.
Give us a call at 210-876-5282 to speak with out certified and trained speech-language pathologists to learn more about incorporating play-based therapy at home and watch your child develop his or her inner communication skills.